A local girl is on her way to a long and prosperous modelling career according to the woman who first scouted her.
Last month, Montana Friskie, a Grade 12 student at Yorkton Regional High School, won the 2012 DISCOVERED International Model Search competition in Regina.
"I think she will go very far in this business," said Lisa Marie Schwartz, co-owner of Regina's Edge Agency, the sponsor of DISCOVERED.
Dan Grant, a model scout for Toronto's NEXT Models judged the competition. He said the reason for picking Montana was simple.
"Obviously, her appearance," he said. "This is an image-driven industry. She looks like a model. She's striking; she's got presence; she's got great features that translate on both the runway and in photographs."
Schwartz, who saw Montana with her mother on the beach at Madge Lake in 2010, approached them about having Montana enter the 2010 competition. Schwartz said looks are obviously important, but to be really successful in modelling you need to be a complete package.
"The first thing I noticed was her presence," said Schwartz. "I could really tell this young girl had it together. She had a maturity about her."
According to Montana, that confidence and maturity came from a place many people might not expect.
"I had some troubles in school when I was younger," she said. "I got picked on a lot. I was bullied in school so I grew up very fast. I grew out of caring about what other people thought of me very fast and fell into who I am. No one can take my dreams away from me."
Montana had never really thought about modelling before she met Schwartz, but took to it right away.
"It comes really naturally to me," she said. "When I'm on the runway or in the middle of a shoot, I just feel like that's what I'm supposed to be doing with my life."
Her parents were not so sure.
"They were a little iffy at first, I mean it's not something you normally see in Yorkton," Montana explained. "But they're really supportive. They're happy to see me happy."
Schwartz said family and community support is a huge plus in an industry where you really need to remain grounded.
"She's really down to earth," Schwartz said. "She is definitely a small town girl working toward a big city dream and I love that about her. She is definitely more than just a pretty face."
More than just a pretty face, indeed. Montana's favourite subject in school is math, for which she has such an aptitude she finished her high school math requirements a year early.
The first year Montana competed in the DISCOVERED competition, she was only 14, but still made it to the final seven. Schwartz wasn't sure why Montana didn't win that first year, but it got her foot in the door. Edge Agency obtained a one-month contract for Montana in Tokyo, Japan.
"Obviously, it was a great opportunity for her to get more experience and find out what the industry is all about," Schwartz said.
It was much more than that for Montana who said it gave her an opportunity to really get in touch with herself living on her own while doing what she really loves to do.
"I absolutely loved it," she said. "Not just for why I was there, the modelling, but just Japan itself. It was unbelievable, awesome. I just loved the whole experience."
After winning the 2012 competition, still only 16, Montana was put right to work doing Christmas campaigns for the Cornwall Centre and Prairie Mobile, both of which will be launched in November.
But while the fashion world may be beckoning Montana, there is still one little matter to attend to.
"I have to finish high school," she said. "Make sure I have a backup plan. But right after grad I just want to do modelling as long as I can."